Confusion, fears and anxiety reigned supreme yesterday in the streets of Owerri, the Imo State capital as supporters of Governor Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that of Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are claiming victory in the governorship poll of Tuesday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which could not announce the final results of the governorship and state assembly elections in the state, called on all stakeholders to remain calm as the impasse would be resolved today.
The election was on Wednesday night declared inconclusive by the state returning officer, Prof. Enoch Akobundu, after declaring results for 23 out of 27 local government areas in the state.
Okorocha had already won 12 local government areas while the incumbent governor and candidate of the PDP trailed with victory in 11 local government areas.
A drama however ensued when the returning officer for Mbaitoli, Mr. Frank Mathias, after releasing results for the local government and giving copies to party agents appeared at the state collation centre to declare that he had no result.
But soon after the opposition agents produced their copies, the embattled returning officer confessed to have duly released the result at the council collation but stated that there was an agreement between him, INEC and the police that informed his earlier position.
Meanwhile, the expectation of conducting election in Ngor-Okpala, Ohaji-Egbema and most parts of Oguta where elections either did not take place or were massively disrupted, was dashed as no voting took place in any of the communities yesterday.
The public affairs officer of INEC in Imo State, Mr. Samuel Bassey, told our correspondent that the REC was still expecting directives from Abuja for the next line of action.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that INEC boss Prof. Athahiru Jega had given directive that elections in those problem areas be conducted today before announcing the winner.
Subsequently, thousands of youths believed to be supporters of APGA besieged INEC office along Port Harcourt Road demanding that results for the governorship election be declared since there was no election conducted in those remaining areas as earlier scheduled.
Later, they left the INEC office and moved rounds the capital city in buses carrying Rochas Okorocha’s posters, chanting anti-Ohakim slogan and advising him to package his baggages ahead of a final pronouncement.
Crisis also ensued near INEC office when the youths stopped some vehicles from entering the premises of the commission. The youths had alleged that they were smuggling in concocted results in favour of the PDP. About four vehicles were destroyed before the intervention of security agents.
The situation around Government House was tense when our our correspondent visited there. Some of the governor’s aides were clustered in groups discussing their fate. The governor himself was said to have travelled to Abuja.
Meanwhile, the Rochas Campaign Organisation has appealed to its supporters to remain calm despite the delay in announcing the result.
The director of media and publicity, Chioma Ogoke, told our correspondent on phone that they were optimistic that Okorocha would definitely emerge winner at the end of the day.
A state of emergency may be declared in the state if the political impasse is not resolved today. INEC is billed to meet today to take a final decision on the complex political logjam.
A statement from the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, disclosed the development.
The constitution states that no election should take place 30 days before the handover date. The handing-over date defined in the constitution is May 29. In essence, no election can take place between April 29 and May 29. Hence there will not be a legally constituted executive in any such state by May 29.
The statement by Idowu read in part: ”In view of the difficulties experienced with the April 26, 2011, governorship and state assembly elections in Imo State, which made the returning officer declare the election inconclusive, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has consulted with its lawyers for advice on the next line of action.
“The commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Friday, April 29, 2011 to take a final decision.
“INEC hereby urges everyone concerned to be patient and await further directives, which will be communicated as soon as a decision is taken. The commission also urges everyone to be peaceful and avoid taking the laws into their hands.
“The commission, once again, reiterates its resolve to ensure the highest level of integrity and credibility for the electoral process and hereby solicits the cooperation of all stakeholders.”